Top chef Nick Cullen takes us back to our childhoods with this simple, yet delicious treat

I HAVE seen plenty of food trends come and go over the years, some more surprising than others.

Many dishes also see cycles in popularity, adapted to suit modern tastes and the availability of more exotic and varied ingredients. One such dish which has seen a rise in status recently is the classic rice pudding.

According to a major supermarket chain, sales have soared in recent years as the retro dessert has been revamped and reincarnated by the foodie elite

Rice pudding is eaten all over the world in one form or another and has been a popular dish for centuries due to the fact that it is both an inexpensive and satisfying meal.

As we continue to persevere through these difficult times, it’s also a great way to put a little smile on a plate for the family - and doesn’t require too many ingredients.

For some, rice pudding will be forever associated with school dinners. For others, myself included, it’s comfort food at its best; the sweet and creamy treat that’s like a hug in a bowl. Of course, the homemade variety is by far superior to anything you can buy in a tin so if you’ve never made it yourself I’d recommend you give it a go.

A bowl of steaming rice pudding is the perfect dessert to serve up on a chilly spring day, although it can also be enjoyed cold in the summer months with some fresh berries.

Here is the basic traditional recipe to get you started - I prefer mine served simply with a good dollop of jam but you can add a variety of spices and fruit as desired.

Rice pudding can be cooked in a pan or baked in the oven – I like to make mine in the pan then finish it off in the oven with a sprinkling of sugar on top to give it a lovely caramelised crust.

Rice Pudding

250ml double cream

550ml full fat or semi-skimmed milk

100g pudding rice

2 vanilla pods

2-4 tbsp. caster sugar to taste

2 tbsp. brown sugar (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 180c (if finishing your dessert in the oven).

Add the cream, milk and rice to a heavy bottomed pan. Split the vanilla pods in half lengthways and add to the pan.

Cook over a very low heat for approximately one to one-and-a-half hours, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked and the dessert has a thick, creamy consistency.

Stir in the caster sugar until dissolved.

If finishing your pudding in the oven, transfer to an oven-proof dish and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Bake for 10 minutes until the sugar has caramelised on top.